A study conducted by scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), provides an insight into how the brains of children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) might be organized differently than youths without the disorder.
The investigation showed that people with this condition have something called hyper- perfusion, which means that they have an increase of blood flow that goes through the frontal regions of the brain. This area of the brain manages things related with social interaction.
The Hyper-perfusion in ASD showed that when the brain continues to develop, the blood flow increases exaggeratedly, affecting the social capacities of the person and delaying the neurodevelopment regarding socio-emotional cognition.
They also found that compared with normally developing children, children with ASD had reduced long-range connectivity between distant parts of the brain, meaning that information cannot flow as it should. This may explain their difficulties in social responsiveness.
This is the first time that researchers used imaging technology to track brains flows as a strong energy measure. The procedure has been already used to track and investigate other brain disorders such as schizophrenia. The technique includes magnetically labeled blood water as a tracer to measure the blood flow.
Researchers studied 17 prospects with high- functioning ASD and 22 normally developing children and adolescents. Groups were classified by age 7 - 17 years old, gender and IQ scores.
The results showed a remarkable difference between the two groups: In children with ASD, there was a pattern of widespread increased hyper-fusion, a consequence of the increment of oxygen metabolism in frontal brain areas.
This suggested that they had an overabundance of neurons and their social-emotional capacities where more underdeveloped than the group that didn't have ASD. The study is published in the journal Brain and Behavior